What Pegman Saw : The Last Freeway

Mads was getting tired now, her boots tearing up the fallen leaves and twigs like miniature bulldozers.

At first Col had scolded her, worried they were leaving tracks the Militia might follow.  But as the sun bottomed on the horizon the forest grew quiet and still, every branch snap making him jump, smothering his whispers. 

He tried to focus on the plan. 

Everyone in HomeState knew the stories. If you cross the Last Freeway and scale the Wall, the Grey City authorities put you in a holding camp until you’re shipped back across the border. 

But in the camps they fed you, give you clean clothes … medicine.

Mads coughed, skinny limbs shivering. The rattle was worse. He’d seen the red in her spit, the stuff she’d tried to stamp into the forest floor so he didn’t worry.

One more day, he thought. Just one more.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s starting point. This week, we visit Frankfurt, Germany. See here to join in.

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What Pegman Saw : Always so cold …

Image : Google Street View 

‘They can’t be grave markers.’ Dr Stephanie Grayling crouched by the nearest stone.

‘Nonsense,’ said Professor Hill. ‘How many burial sites have you excavated in Ethiopia with the same style of carving, the same themes of weaponry and plant life?’ 

Grayling ran a finger over the grainy stone, felt the grooves mesh with the whorls in her skin. Always so cold, even on the hottest days … 

Hill must have heard the rumours circulating the dig team, but she’d worked with him often enough to know he never listened to chatter, only ever focusing on the facts as they presented themselves.

She stood beside him. ‘There are just too many, Craig.’ Thousands of markers sticking from the scrubby grass, accusing fingers of stone in every direction. She tried to fight off the panic, the feeling some had subtly shifted position since the day before.

‘We should never have come here.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as a jumping off point. This week we visit a fascinating archaeological site in Ethiopia. See here to join in, share, read and comment.

What Pegman Saw : The many in the one

 

I tell Mammy, “The church speaks to me.”

I don’t expect tears of joy, the kisses and blessings. I don’t expect to be trussed in my coat, my hat with the ear flaps, my scarf, my mittens and heavy boots until I’m muffled and leaden, a deep sea diver wading among the coral.

Mammy’s heels clip-clop on the cobbles, the sound echoing between staring houses.

It speaks again as we enter the churchyard. At first it’s like one voice, a wind sighing through narrow gaps. But then I hear the many in the one – crying, whispering, calling for help that never comes.

The rectory door bell rings. I shuffle on the step, aching to run but held by Mammy’s joy, her fierce pride that the Lord has chosen to speak to me.

The door swings wide. There’s the black shirt, the white collar.

One look and it’s clear – he knows.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we are in Stockholm, Sweden. See here to join in, to share, read and comment.

Three Line Tales: Now the colours are wrong

 

three line tales, week 144: people on a bath through fields of red bushes

photo by Andre Benz via Unsplash


When he dreamed of home the colours were wrong – the cool jade shrubs turned lurid magenta, wisps of ochre cirrus floating in a scorched sienna sky.

He’d wake sweating, reaching blindly for a hand no longer there.

There was no home left. No love to comfort him, no eyes to cry for all he’d lost. One night of flame had ended him.


Written for Three Lines Tales. See here to join in and share.

FFfAW : The beat of a tin heart

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Jade M. Wong. Thank you Jade!


 

She’s there again, the bobbin head at the window, slashes of blonde hair warping with the faults in the window pane. Her face is a pale oval, the grey of over-washed sheets.

As I mount the steps of the smoky block that was once our home, I sense her approach the glass, peer at my crunching path along the shingle drive. I listen for the tap of her nails – tick-tick, tick-tick, like a tiny metal heart beat – but it doesn’t come. There is only the wind soughing in my ears and the groan of the door swinging wide.

‘Daddy’s home,’ I call.

But she won’t come down from her attic room. She’ll stay at the window, with her grey face paling, her mouth a blur of silent pleas and prayers, hoping that someone will come.

Someone who isn’t me.

 


Written for FFfAW. See the pic and share a tale.

As it’s the eve of Halloween and Jade’s photograph took me in that direction, I thought a tale of ghostly presences and seen things that aren’t quite seen would be fitting.

 

What Pegman Saw : The cupboard at the top of the stairs

 

Grandma’s house had no carpets, just bare floor boards that scratched at your feet like cat claws, windows that rattled in the frames at night as if the glass was tapped by invisible fingers.

At home, Bren would lie in front of the fire, read her Beano till her eyes felt prickly from the heat. Here, the cold knifed under every door, made you tuck your feet up on the hard wooden seats.

Then there was the cupboard at the top of the stairs.

No higher than her waist, each door had a round window with slots in, eyes to see in through. Or out of.

Her sister Tally had dared her to look inside but the doors seemed impossible to open, the little catches always slipping and jiggling under her fingers.

Then one day as she was passing she heard a click, a sigh of well oiled hinges.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt inspired by Google Street View. This week we are in Castle Bran in Romania. See here to join in and write your own tale.

Note

For those outside the UK, The Beano is the longest running children’s magazine in the country, its first edition being published before the Second World War in July 1938.

What Pegman Saw : The City of the Dead

 

 

Mayor Leopold Hare sunk to his haunches, ran slender fingers over the gouges in the concrete. ‘And this happened last night? Where were your Watchmen, Captain Hopkins?’

Hopkins heard the accusation in Hare’s chilly tone but ignored it. ‘On a call. Domestic over on Lafeyette and Third.’

Hare creaked to his feet, turning hollow eyes along the road, to the broken stone slab of the Grandjean Mausoleum. ‘What is that smell?’

He’d noticed it when he arrived – like spent matches and fireworks … Like Hell. ‘Sulphur,’ he said.

Bone dry leaves spiralled in the wind, drifting around Hare’s feet.

The Mayor nodded. ‘I thought so too.’ He tapped a bony finger against his lip. ‘A daemon then? Stealing our citizens? To what end?’

Hopkins could only shiver, only think of the other bodies ripped from their Endless Sleep over the previous days.

Something evil had come to Necropolis.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt inspired by Google Street View. Visit here to join in the fun and pen a tale of your own.

Now, who could resist a creepy tale when faced with the Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans? The sight of those amazing graves – resembling so many small stone houses – had my mind wandering to a City of the Dead where something very bad is happening. A bit off the wall, but Halloween is fast approaching.

Notes

The Mayor’s surname was robbed from the ‘Resurrectionist’ William Hare – see here to acquaint yourself with his grisly story.

And the Captain’s name was spirited away from Matthew Hopkins, the 17th Century Witch Finder General. See here to learn more.